When Dante Boccuzzi opened Ginko three years ago, he introduced Tremont diners to the joys of shabu-shabu. The Japanese-style fondue — also called hot pot — is a fun, interactive dining experience around which entire restaurants are built.
That’s the plan down the street at Ushabu (2173 Professor Ave.), which is slated to open late fall in the former home of Eye Candy Gallery. Owner Hsiao Jung Liu will devote her small 700-square-foot eatery almost exclusively to shabu-shabu.
“We go to Tremont a lot for happy hour and we really like the atmosphere there,” says Haowei Chiu, the owner’s boyfriend. “When foodies want to try something new, they always think of Tremont.”
Ushabu will offer a traditional dashi broth, a spicy miso broth, plus a richer one made from pork bones. Diners add veggies like cabbage, seaweed, mushrooms and green onions to the broth to flavor it, rice noodles to absorb the broth, and quickly submerge very thin slices of beef — usually wagyu or kobe — in the broth to cook it. The meats are then dipped in sauces like sweet sesame, ponzu and soy-vinegar. The remaining broth is consumed last.
The owners are still working out the menu, but say they might add seafood hot pot options along with some Chinese appetizers. Prices will be in the $15-$18 per person range. “We want to provide an affordable dining experience,” says Chiu.
The name is a play on the phrase “you shabu,” he adds. “We provide the fresh ingredients and you are the chef who prepares your own dish.”
When completed, the restaurant will accommodate approximately 35 guests at a handful of tables with built-in burners and the bar, which will be specifically designed for shabu eating.
Management hopes to secure a beer and wine license down the road.
“Shabu-shabu is perfect for Cleveland’s long, cold winters,” says Chiu.